The Civil Aviation and Safety Authority (CASA) has endorsed reducing red tape in Australia’s aviation industry. This recommendation comes in response to industry accusations that regulatory complexity is contributing to the sector’s decline.

The regulator’s stance was prompted by the recent publication of data by industry advocacy group, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). The data shows that the number of general aviation pilots in Australia has dropped by 34 per cent since 2000, aviation gas consumption has declined by 35 per cent in the same period, and aircraft registrations have slumped by 53 per cent since 2007.

AOPA Executive Director, Ben Morgan, attributed the decline to “structural and systemic failure of the regulatory framework”, that was “being exacerbated by onerous red tape and high costs of compliance.”

Mr. Morgan went on to state:

“We need wholesale change. We need the minister to step in and trigger a clear political intervention to address the highest level issue that all other issues stem from and that is the fact that our regulator is not tied in its performance to the performance of the industry”.

While CASA emphasised that it was not solely to blame for the sector’s decline, it did accept that there was a need for regulatory reform. A spokesman for CASA stated that “As a part of the Australian aviation system, CASA acknowledges it needs to do more to remove any unnecessary regulatory burdens to general aviation and to provide efficient regulatory services”.

Indeed, as the IPA’s Darcy Allen wrote on this blog recently:

“Regulators—from the monolithic Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) down to state and local governments—progressively and cumulatively pile rules and costs onto this struggling industry.

Of course some regulation of aviation is necessary. But this does not remove regulator responsibility in adhering to good regulatory practice. It is simply poor policy to apply new rules and dictates without effective and appropriate cost benefit analysis.”

And as Stuart Eaton wrote only a few weeks ago:

“CASA is a behemoth of a regulator, whose influence and involvement in every aspect of our aviation industry seems to be ever expanding. Surely it is time for well credentialed, industry specialists to be consulted about how CASA and its myriad of red tape can be constrained.”

The IPA welcomes CASA’s acknowledgment of the red tape issue in the aviation industry, and hopes that this will promote reform to ensure the sector’s future prosperity and progress.

By Michael Husek